The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting that mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus, a potentially serious disease spread by mosquito bites, have been found in Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Chelsea, Newton, and Waltham this season. No mosquito samples in Somerville have tested positive for the virus this year. However, Somerville and the communities of Everett, Malden, Medford, Revere, and Winthrop are now considered to be at moderate risk for West Nile Virus. The forecasted conditions (rain and continued warmth) are conducive to further spread of the virus across the area. Ongoing mosquito trapping in the area will monitor for evidence of additional risk. August and September are usually the periods of greatest West Nile Virus activity in Massachusetts.
What can you do to prevent mosquito-borne illness?
Avoid Mosquito Bites
· Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors:
Use a repellent with DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
· Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours:
The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
· Wear Clothing that will cover your body:
Clothing can help reduce mosquito from having access to your skin. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Reduce Mosquito Breeding Areas
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still or stagnant water found in catch basins, roof gutters clogged with leaves, old tires, flower pots, bird baths, swimming pool covers, buckets, cans, barrels, and other places where water can be trapped. You can greatly reduce the city’s mosquito population by removing mosquito breeding areas on your property.
· Empty or treat any items that hold water, such as flower pots, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, cans, and barrels. Do not leave water bowls outside for your animals when they are inside; empty the bowl when not being used.
· Clean rain gutters, leaves in downspouts, and pooled water on flat roofs. Remember to use caution when you clean out these items.
· Remove containers that may hold water in places that are hard to see, such as under bushes, porches, decks, or stairs.
Learn About Mosquito-borne Illness
· What is Mosquito-borne illness?
Mosquito-borne illness is illness spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.
In the Northeastern United States, it is usually caused by viruses such as
West Nile Virus (WNV) or Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV). There
is a low risk of WNV infection following a mosquito bite. Most people bitten
by infected mosquitoes experience no illness or only mild illness, but a small
number of people can develop more serious disease.
· How is it spread?
Mosquito-borne illness is spread to people through the bite of an infected
· Am I at risk of becoming sick from mosquito bites?
The time of the year when mosquitoes are most active and most likely to
carry disease is between late July and late September, but if the weather
remains warm, the risk period can extend as late as November. People at
higher risk for developing serious symptoms from WNV are those over age
50, however EEEV can cause serious illness in any age group.
· What should I do if I get bitten by a mosquito?
Mosquito-borne illness is very rare in Somerville. Most mosquitoes don’t
carry viruses that cause human illness, and the risk of illness following a
mosquito bite is small. However, you should see your doctor immediately if
you develop high fever, confusion, severe headache, stiff neck, or if your eyes
become sensitive to light.